Ukraine Conflict Monitor, July 11-18, 2017

Ukraine 101:

  • Of the 5,500 Lenin statues that stood in Ukraine in 1991, none are officially left standing today. (New York Times, 07.17.17)

West’s leverage over Russia:

  • Ministers from all 28 EU states adopted on July 17 a decision to grant Ukraine temporary trade preference for some agricultural and industrial products, following a similar decision by the European Parliament earlier this month. Representatives of the European Parliament and the European Council are to sign the agreement during a plenary session in Strasbourg in September. The measures will apply for three years from the end of September. (RFE/RL, 07.17.17)
  • "I would never take the sanctions off until something is worked out to our satisfaction and everybody’s satisfaction in Syria and in Ukraine," U.S. President Donald Trump said July 12, adding later: "I’ve made great deals. That’s what I do. Why would I take sanctions off without getting anything?" (Politico, 07.13.17)
  • Ukrainian and EU leaders ended a two-day summit July 13 that celebrated their growing closeness while also highlighting points of tension between the two sides. A disagreement over wording about Ukraine’s “European aspirations” left organizers without a final summit communiqué, showing “a lack of unity,” according to one diplomat. (Politico, 07.13.17)

Russia’s leverage over West:

  • No significant developments.

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • The Russian defense industry has substituted 90% of its Ukrainian products, a process that will be complete before the end of 2018, Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov told reporters on July 18. (TASS, 07.18.17)

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 65 civilian casualties (12 killed and 53 injured) were verified in Ukraine in June, a 14% decrease compared to the previous month. Since the start of 2017, needs in acute shelter intervention have increased by 140% as of May and disruption of water supply has affected some 3 million people since the start of 2017, a 13% increase of the initial 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan target. Additionally, more than 7,000 square kilometers along the “contact line” have been contaminated by mines and other remnants of war. (ReliefWeb, 07.13.17)
  • A former Ukrainian lawmaker says Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region have confirmed that they are holding blogger Stanislav Aseyev. The separatists have reportedly accused Aseyev of espionage and threatened him with up to 14 years in prison. Aseyev, who writes under the name Stanislav Vasin and contributes to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, went missing in Donetsk on June 2. (RFE/RL, 07.17.17)
  • From July 11 to July 18, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were wounded in action in the Donbas, the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) headquarters has reported. (UNIAN, 07.13.17, 07.15.17, 07.16.17)

Impact of Russia’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine on other countries:

  • Estonia, a NATO member that shares a border with Russia, wants to enhance its defensive capabilities with anti-aircraft weapons and is discussing a more permanent deployment with other countries inside the military alliance. While air-defense systems have been stationed in the Baltic nation temporarily during military exercises, the government is holding “working-level” talks for a longer-term presence since it can’t afford to purchase them itself, according to Defense Minister Juri Luik. (Bloomberg, 07.13.17)

Red lines and tripwires:

  • No significant developments.

Factors and scenarios that could cause resumption of large-scale hostilities or lead to accidents between Western and Russian forces in Europe:

  • No significant developments.

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • Melinda Haring, editor of the UkraineAlert blog at the Atlantic Council, writes: “The space for meaningful change is shrinking, and fatigue and cynicism are widespread. But the country still has a chance. Kiev must push ahead now with the next round of urgently needed reforms, and the IMF should hold them to it.” (The Washington Post, 07.11.17)


  • Adrian Karatnycky, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, writes: “Mr. Putin's war against Ukraine has boomeranged. His aggression has consolidated popular opinion, with one recent poll showing that 92% of those on territory controlled by Kiev now see themselves as Ukrainians. A decade ago that number stood at 75%.” (Wall Street Journal, 07.14.17)
  • Ilan Berman, senior vice president at the American Foreign Policy Council, writes: “Russia’s control of Crimea, the [new] report notes, represents a massive social engineering initiative. Under Moscow’s administration, Crimea has seen the imposition of a raft of draconian new laws governing everything from military conscription to alcohol consumption, a surge in human rights abuses, and the ‘systemic persecution’ of the region’s indigenous Tatar population (whose governing body, the mejlis, has been formally banned as a ‘terrorist organization.’) The goal of this effort is twofold: to subjugate the region’s native population and to tether it more closely to Moscow.” (Foreign Affairs, 07.13.17)

Other important news:

  • Separatists in eastern Ukraine on July 18 proclaimed a new state that aspires to include not only the areas they control, but also the rest of the country. Russia sought to play down the announcement, saying it was merely part of public discussion. Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said in comments broadcast on Russian television that rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk as well as representatives of other Ukrainian regions would form a state called Malorossiya, or Little Russia, a name that comes from the days of the Russian Empire. Zakharchenko said they are drawing up a constitution that would be put up to a popular vote. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the idea. (AP, 07.18.17, Reuters, 07.18.17)
  • A national monument commemorating the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine was unveiled in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands, on July 17. The plane was shot down in July 2014, months after the start of a war between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated the bloc's "full support" for continuing investigations into the downing of the plane, saying "it is crucial that the investigators can complete their work, independently and thoroughly." Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on July 16 also urged Russia to comply with U.N. Security Council resolution 2166. Fifteen relatives of the victims staged a silent protest outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague on July 16, calling on Moscow to take responsibility for the deadly downing. The protesters sat outside the embassy for an hour, bringing with them a bench with a plaque reading: “Waiting for responsibility and full clarity,” and below, in Russian, “Humanity over politics.” They also delivered an open letter to the embassy, which calls for Russia to co-operate with the investigation into the perpetrators of the fatal downing of Flight MH17. (RFE/RL, 07.17.17, RFE/RL, 07.16.17, The Moscow Times, 07.17.17)
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has characterized the latest session of the NATO-Russia Council on July 13 as a "frank and useful discussion" of Ukraine, Afghanistan and risk reduction, despite continued “fundamental disagreements" between the alliance and Moscow, particularly regarding Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s role in the war in eastern Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 07.13.17)
    • NATO’s support for Ukraine encourages Kiev to go ahead with the war in Donbas, Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said on July 13 after a NATO-Russia Council meeting. (TASS, 07.13.17)
  • The crisis in Ukraine will continue until Ukrainians’ patience runs out, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on July 14 at a meeting with workers in the Belgorod region in central European Russia. (TASS, 07.14.17)
  • "We'd like to see Ukraine as a stable and democratic state where the language, religious and ethnic minorities could live freely and use their rights stipulated by international conventions, including the convention of the Council of Europe," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 13 as he addressed a conference on the floor of the Korber Foundation. "Also, it would be nice if that country did not cultivate artificial Russhophobic moods." (TASS, 07.14.17)
  • Ukrainian and EU leaders ended a two-day summit July 13 that celebrated their growing closeness while also highlighting points of tension between the two sides. A disagreement over wording about Ukraine’s “European aspirations” left organizers without a final summit communiqué, showing “a lack of unity,” according to one diplomat. (Politico , 07.13.17)
    • Corruption is undermining all efforts to rebuild Ukraine in line with EU norms, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said on July 13, as President Petro Poroshenko vowed to pursue ever-closer integration with the bloc. (Reuters, 07.13.17)
  • Georgia and Ukraine have agreed to cooperate in their efforts to join the EU in a declaration of strategic partnership in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on July 18. (RFE/RL, 07.18.17)
  • Siemens is considering exiting two joint ventures with Russian companies after the German industrial conglomerate recently found itself at the center of a scandal over supplying turbines to Crimea. (Center on Global Interests, 07.17.17)
  • Paul J. Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, recently filed financial reports with the Justice Department showing that he earned nearly $17 million for two years of work for a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin—more than the party itself reported spending in the same period for its entire operation. The discrepancy is a reflection of Ukraine’s murky domestic politics under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. (New York Times, 07.15.17)
  • Ukraine's Naftogaz plans to sign natural gas purchase agreements with Trafigura Trading (Europe) Sarl and Vattenfall Energy Trading GmbH as it expands supply from Europe in a continued effort to diversify away from Russian energy imports. (Reuters, 07.18.17)
  • Benjamin Stimson, a British national, was sentenced on July 14 to five years and four months in prison after the Manchester Crown Court ruled he illegally entered eastern Ukraine in 2015 to fight alongside Russia-backed separatists against the central government. Stimson pleaded guilty to a charge of assisting others in committing terrorism, officials said. (RFE/RL, 07.14.17)